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Kingsman: The Secret Service

The director of Kick-Ass turns his attentions to the Bond legacy, and it's a sight to see.
By Tom Clift
February 02, 2015
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By Tom Clift
February 02, 2015
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In 2010, director Matthew Vaughn gave us his tongue-in-cheek take on the superhero genre with the hyperactive action-comedy, Kick-Ass. Five years later, he turns his attention to the spy movie, with similarly electrifying results. Adapted, as was Kick-Ass, from a graphic novel by Mark Millar, Kingsman: The Secret Service is popcorn entertainment at its finest: funny, exciting and immaculately paced, never once bogged down by grit or self-importance.

Colin Firth crackles as Agent Harry Hart, a gentleman spy for a privately run espionage agency operating “at the highest levels of discretion”. After the death of a colleague, Hart finds himself on the trail of nefarious billionaire Richmond Valentine (a lisping Samuel L. Jackson), whose plan to save the planet may come at the expense of the people living on it. At the same time, Hart also finds himself mentoring teenaged hoodlum Eggsy (Taron Egerton), in whose defiant eyes he sees a glimmer of Kingsman potential.

Vaughn shoots the film with the giddiness of a 12-year-old, one who just stepped out of his very first spy movie with dreams of saving the world. The antithesis of the Craig-era Bond flicks, Kingsman never tries to justify its own absurdity, but rather rockets along with such irreverent energy that you can’t help but get caught up in all the fun. Explosions of over-the-top violence dominate the second half, although it’s all far too cartoonish to cause any serious offence. The action is propelled by a rousing orchestral score, courtesy of regular Vaughn collaborators Matthew Margeson and Henry Jackman.

The movie’s cast is excellent across the board. Firth could play a suit-clad toff in his sleep, but he also makes for a surprisingly convincing action hero — and listening to him drop F-bombs while dispatching thugs with his umbrella is a singular pleasure no other film can provide. Jackson is a job as the villain of the piece, while young Egerton has the makings of a star. Mark Strong and Michael Caine round out the ranks of the secret service, although it’s a shame that the latter isn’t given a little bit more to do.

After a January packed with high-minded Oscar films, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a much needed blast of fresh air. If you’re looking for a fun night out at the movies, don’t hesitate to pick up a ticket.

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